UNLV prepares for upcoming Mountain West football season

UNLV football
Posted at 5:22 PM, Sep 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-25 21:40:49-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — College football is coming back to Las Vegas. The Mountain West Conference unveiled its season plans on Friday for games to start in late October.

This means Rebels football will soon be back, as the Mountain West prepares to have a football season.

Commissioner Craig Thompson says nearly all of the teams will have eight games in eight weeks starting on Oct. 24. As they will mainly face conference opponents.

He also said the plans took months of planning and credited the development of a rapid test for coronavirus.

Mountain West discusses decision to play 8-game schedule starting Oct. 24

“In getting the three rapid testing antigen tests, for each campus and without that, we wouldn’t even be here today,” Thompson said.

The conference will be testing three days a week using the antigen test as opposed to testing every day. It will all be paid for by the conference and it is believed to be an effective way to track the virus.

“We’re confident that because the test is a very sensitive and very specific test, it will probably be able to factor out those false negatives and false positives as well,” said Dr. Tony Islas, with the University of Nevada.

UNLV says it’s been testing players once a week and will switch to the conference model starting Oct. 10.

Rebels Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois says getting the rapid test system in place was crucial in getting a season.

“Our testing is getting back in less than four hours, so everything is evolving, and everybody is doing their absolute best,” she said.

Thompson says the conference is still working on finalizing the schedule and there will be no make-up dates for postponed games. He says decisions will be made if a game needs to be canceled due to a possible outbreak.

“We’re saying and hoping we can play 8 games starting Oct. 24 but there is absolutely no guarantee,” Thompson said. “I had a team meeting this morning and asked how many of you guys didn’t sleep, and it was like Christmas.”

The excitement can hardly be contained for Rebels head coach Marcus Arroyo, getting prepared for a football season that’s set to happen. He’s making adjustments at practice during this time of social distancing.

“There’s no more common phrase that I yell than six feet, six feet in practice. I probably said it about a thousand times today,” he said.

Local sports radio host TC Martin says the short football season could produce unexpected results.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how they gel together, especially, with no non-conference games. You’re just diving right into the conference schedule,” he said.

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Reed-Francois says the school is working with the state on possibly allowing a limited number of fans to watch.

“We want to be able to do that, but we have to do it safely and we’ve had a continuous conversation and we are cautiously optimistic,” she said.

The governor’s current mandate doesn’t allow gatherings of more than 50 people. Reed-Francois says if the rules change or it gets permission, the school will try to accommodate.

“We know people want to see and be a part and there’s one thing so beautiful about the galvanizing impact of sports,” she said.

The Mountain West championship football game won’t be at Allegiant Stadium unless the Rebels have the best record in the conference and make it to the championship game.